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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

World War Z



In World War Z, Brad Pitt can't catch no Z's. You literally have to subject him to a plane crash and knock him out to get him to take a nap. A former UN inspector and a caring family man with a wife (Mirelle Enos) and two young daughters, Pitt's wholesome life was rudely interrupted when the world suddenly ended. A zombie apocalypse sweeps every nation, with millions of people transforming into zombies. The scant pockets of survivors the UN is able to airlift onto its ships in the Atlantic Ocean remind us of Battlestar Galactica's ragtag fleet running from the ruination of civilization. With the death toll reaching an epic scale ("The President is dead!", we quickly learn), Pitt finds himself as our reluctant Best Hope for figuring out what caused this zombie epidemic and maybe finding a cure, or at least a way for surviving Mankind to fight back.

The specter of the mega-popular The Walking Dead hangs over World War Z, and in terms of establishing its own rules about how zombies operate, World War Z wisely zigs where The Walking Dead zags. World War Z embraces the word "zombie", even having American special forces soldiers in South Korea flippantly calling the zombies "Zees." These Zees aren't the lumbering zombies of yore; they're of the new breed of super fast running movie zombies, but all jumped up on zombie Ritalin. Fond of twisting their limbs and barking like velociraptors (one sequence late in the film coolly invokes the famous Jurassic Park scene in the kitchen), the World War Zees will leap headlong at you, crashing through walls, doors, windows, and flinging themselves off buildings and onto helicopters and airplanes. When the Zees swarm in the thousands, we are aghast at the sight of them scaling fifty foot high walls. Even when burned to ashes, somehow whatever appendages they have that survive continue to move. They're hyper-sensitive to sound and they're even worse than screaming children on airplanes. Forget Snakes on a Plane, Samuel L. Jackson should have been present to utter the immortal line:

"I'm tired of these motherfuckin' zombies on this motherfuckin' plane!"

Resembling a male lion, like an exhausted adult Simba or Lion-O, the increasingly injured Pitt goes on a global hunt for the cure to the Zees, barely surviving one horrific zombie attack after another. In a military base in South Korea, he meets a toothless, cuckoo bananas CIA agent (David Morse) who tells him North Korea beat the zombie apocalypse by removing the teeth of their entire population. Next stop is Israel, which held off the Zees by building a giant wall around Jerusalem, until the Zees figure out how to swarm over the wall. Almost stealing the movie from Pitt is his unlikely partner, a brave soldier played by the stunning Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz. When her hand is bitten by a zombie, Pitt quickly chops her fucking hand off to stop the infection, which has gotta go into the Movie Meet Cute Hall of Fame. After slicing off her appendage and then sweetly taking care of her, Pitt and Kertesz are bonded for life, especially after they arrive at a WHO hospital in Wales where Pitt figures out why a small amount of people are being ignored by the rampaging hordes of Zees. 

After relentless days of Pitt fighting for his life in the traditional ways like using weapons, head shots with guns, and cleverly duct taping magazines around his forearms as bite guards, World War Z hits upon with a novel idea for surviving against the zombies; injecting yourself with a lethal disease to create a "camouflage" against them. Zombies only want to infect hosts that aren't already infected with a fatal disease. Though entire cities are "lost" and billions are dead from the zombie infection, Pitt's closing narration that "the war has just begun" blatantly states that World War Z is leaving itself open for sequels. Perhaps when World War Z figures out a twenty seventh letter for the title of its sequel, someone like Magic Johnson can join Brad Pitt in the fight to take the world back from the Zees.